Sunday 27 May 2018

S Korea holds drill despite war threat

Seoul, December 20, 2010

South Korea  held live firing drills in a disputed area on Monday despite  threats of war from Pyongyang after an emergency UN Security  Council meeting failed to agree on how to defuse the crisis.

The drill, delayed from the weekend by bad weather, lasted  almost two hours with near constant artillery fire, some near  and some distant, which shook air raid bunkers on the island  of Yeonpyeong. There was no immediate North Korean response.

"I can't exactly tell how many have been fired, some are  distant and some are noisy. The bunker is shaking and people  here are worried, including myself," said a Reuters witness.     

There was no incoming fire. On Nov 23, the last time Seoul conducted firing drills  from Yeonpyeong close to the disputed maritime border off the  west coast of the peninsula, Pyongyang retaliated by shelling  the island, killing two civilians and two marines in the worst  attack on South Korean territory since the Korean war ended in  1953.     

But amid the tension there was also a report of a  potential diplomatic breakthrough, with US troubleshooter  Bill Richardson winning concessions from North Korea on the  return of nuclear inspectors, according to CNN.

North Korea warned last week that it would strike even  harder if the latest drills went ahead. China and Russia have  cautioned Seoul against holding the exercise, while the United  States has backed South Korea's right to hold the drills.

New Mexico Governor Richardson, visiting Pyongyang to try  to ease tensions, won agreement from North Korea to allow UN
nuclear inspectors to return, according to CNN which has a  team travelling with him.

Pyongyang "agreed to allow International Atomic Energy  Agency personnel to return to a nuclear facility in the  country and agreed to negotiate the sale of 12,000 ... fuel  rods and ship them to an outside country, presumably to South  Korea", CNN said, quoting correspondent Wolf Blitzer in  Pyongyang.

"The North has also agreed to consider Richardson's  proposal for a military commission between the United States,  North Korea and South Korea as well as a separate hotline for  the Koreas' militaries."     

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said it could not  confirm the agreement. "We do not have the specific details yet, so it is too  early to make an official evaluation," a spokesman said. - Reuters

Tags: Korea | Nuclear | military | drill |


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